China Underground > Essential guide to China > A guide to Living in China as an Expat

A guide to Living in China as an Expat

Moving to China can present some serious challenges, even for the most experienced of ex-pats.

China is the third-biggest country in the world, and has the world’s largest population at just over 1.3 billion people, making up over 20% of the world’s total population.

Because of this, there are huge numbers of people residing in the cities, leading to busy, crowded places that are full of the hustle and bustle of daily life.

China is a country that is rich with culture and history, both of which are centered around their ancient civilization.

This, paired with its vast size, makes it a wonderful place for ex-pats to both live and explore.

Moving to China as an Ex-Pat

Moving to China can be both an exciting but frustrating experience. It provides you with an opportunity to live side by side with people from a strong, vibrant culture, leading to an experience that is enriched with the chance to learn from those who have a very different perspective on the world.

On the other hand, it can also be a place of significant challenges, impeded by language barriers and cultural differences.

However, those with an open mind can find ways to fit in, and there are several ex-pat groups where you can meet like-minded friends.

Working in China:

Many Westerners survive in China by teaching English as a foreign language; a position which is highly sought after and often does not require a college degree.

There are also several multinational companies in China where you may be offered a position, particularly if they deal with the U.S and require English-speaking staff.

If you can, taking up the opportunity to learn the local language can help you improve your chances of finding work.

And if your current employer has branches in China, all you may need to do is ask for a transfer.

Cost of Living:

The cost of living in China is something that can often be misunderstood. It’s worth keeping in mind that in many ways, China is still a developing country and for the majority of the population, living standards are low.

However, the majority of ex-pats are often offered salaries that are much higher than that of the locals, and coupled with low tax rates, ex-pats can often enjoy a higher standard of living here compared to their home country.


The Chinese health service is in many ways very different to that of the US, but one thing that you will still need to get is good health insurance.

Whether you are planning to live in China for a short or long time, ensuring that you are financially protected against any nasty surprises such as health conditions or injuries is essential.

Medical bills in China can be high if you are not insured, so don’t leave it down to chance.

Search medical insurance for expats in China here to find the best policy for your needs.

And, before you go, speak to your doctor about any vaccinations that you may need beforehand.

If you have any pre-existing conditions, get the advice of your doctor on managing them well once you’re living in China.


Last of all, make sure that you choose the right area in China to relocate to.

It may be worth traveling there for some time beforehand to get a feel for the areas and determine which is right for you.

If you are traveling with your family, make sure that you are happy with the nearby schools and that they are suitable for your children’s learning needs.

Take some time to get to know and prepare for the new culture in advance; this will help you settle into your new life quickly.

If you found these tips helpful, we’d love to hear from you!

Featured image: Pixabay

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